Orville Taylor | Bruce is right: Don’t ‘be-labour’ the obvious
Give me a word starting with ‘F’ that you do very poorly. In response he said, “Spelling!” The follow-up question about something he excels at and his answer was either making factories or crockery. Background noises and idle chatter muffled his...
Give me a word starting with ‘F’ that you do very poorly. In response he said, “Spelling!” The follow-up question about something he excels at and his answer was either making factories or crockery. Background noises and idle chatter muffled his retort; but I cannot be blamed, because he is a politician and like too many of them, he talks from both sides of his mouth.
Despite being maligned, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding is simply right and we need to not make dissonance where there is none.
Last week the Financial Services Commission (FSC) went to court to prevent the beleaguered Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) from being wound up. This is absolutely the right move, because once a company goes into liquidation, then the task of recovery of debts becomes an arduous if not impossible one. At the bottom of the spectrum are workers and non-bank investors. Indeed, legal fees rank above those of the nervous thousands of clients, who, unlike Usain Bolt, have no backup beyond their reverse lights.
It is scary that we are seeing reminders of the ghastly greed and poor regulation of the financial sector in the early to mid-1990s. Many Jamaicans, including small and medium enterprises, crashed, as an eerie predecessor of SSL, the Eagle group, became the poster child for the dangers of untrammelled risky behaviour with innocent investors’ money.
Despite the best attempts by the then government in creating the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC), some trusting Jamaicans were reduced to mendicancy and a few reputed to have lost so much, they committed suicide. After FINSAC, we should have learnt and been on our toes, like ballet dancers.
Finance Minister Nigel Clarke acted with a swiftness that Bolt himself would scarcely rival. In short order, he demanded the resignation, thus constructively dismissing the chief executive officer of the FSC. Ending the tenure of its board members and then, effectively neutering it, he created a new supervisory structure, with the head of the Bank of Jamaica, Richard Byles, at the helm.
In his wisdom, Clarke recognises the important role of government in creating and maintaining a robust and trustworthy financial system. Neither an insult to the Jamaican investigators nor a mere invitation to the FBI, any patriotic Jamaican would feel comfortable with the digging for the source of the ‘infection’.
Adding to this, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has moved to assure the Jamaican people that there is no chaos in the system, because a responsible government has acted and is acting to protect us. Admitting that the system has a “strong and vibrant financial system in which the public can have confidence”, he reminded us that it is the “…result of significant reforms implemented over the last two decades”, ostensibly by government. Thus, “…there is absolutely no need for panic about the strength and soundness of the financial system as a whole.”
Thus, if one is saying that government is doing things to protect the Jamaican people; it accepts that it is its responsibility if the obverse occurs; there is some blame that it must take.
That SSL, though reminiscent of an Eagle, but clearly an owl, which flies by night, was able to soar below the radar is a mystery. There is an analogy about eagles flying high above the din and even the weather. However, eagles are predators and are always looking for prey. On the other hand, vultures, including our own John Crow, fly higher than eagles, hawks and all such raptors. Eagles might have better eyesight; but vultures have better senses of smell. Therefore, they can detect rotting flesh and corruption where no one else can.
If we are following a timeline of the carrion trail, Bolt’s investment began in 2012. Obviously, someone doesn’t recall that this was a full year after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) gambled after the masses chanted, “Call it Andrew, call it!” and lost.
DROPPED THE CATCH
So, let me say this in slow motion because, there are some persons who are either dumb to history or simply saving the minuscule brain capacity for retirement. This saga regarding the loss of Bolt’s millions, the exposure of trusting depositors and the FSC’s lack of scrutiny cuts across the People’s National Party (PNP) reign between 2011 and 2016, and of course the JLP from 2016 up to the present. Therefore, for anyone who is has any conscience or simply sense, both regimes dropped the catch.
A political leadership that seeks to move past the pubescent stage into adulthood must acknowledge when balls are dropped, man up and ‘take the licks’. Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding admitted on radio, that, “The Government has a responsibility, they are the ones that issue licences to these investment houses and … what they are saying to the public is that ‘I am satisfied that these are good people to do business with’… Well, that is what Usain Bolt did and look what happened to him.” So, here is the question to those whose underwear warm up to the point of it burning. ‘Do we commend the government for takings steps to make sure the gaps are fixed and ordering a wholesome investigation?’
Never mind that to the politically paranoid or tribalists, it might have appeared to be a slap against the current JLP administration. So for the benefit of those who want to make this into something that it is not, Golding’s comments are spot on. Government is responsible. It admits its shortcomings and accepts congratulations when it takes decisive action.
Let’s grab the Golding opportunity, pull his namesake along too, and do this thing together.
- Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.